Monthly Archives: February 2017

Free Secrets

Small business owners represent the majority of our members and I know first-hand how busy you can be!  Investing in your business can be tough and investing your time even tougher!  Your time is valuable…. who has an extra 5 minutes let alone 90?  But investing in your business, whether it is in your employees (by taking advantage of the Chamber Business Academy discounts) or revamping how you’ve always done things, is critical to really growing your business.

When was the last time you were able to do something to really affect and grow your business?  Perhaps it was attending our LevelUp last year and taking back some professional and business development ideas and putting them into place.

What about your marketing plan?  We all know that we need to market our business, but are we doing it the most effective and affordable way to maximize results?  With social media, digital media, websites, magazines, papers, television, billboards, radio…there are almost too many ways out there to advertise.  What is the best for your business?

The Chamber and the Williston Herald have collaborated to bring in acclaimed author Mike Blinder for a 90-minute workshop.  Mike is a leading multimedia expert who specializes in helping local businesses find local customers cost effectively.   The workshop will reveal his multimedia marketing secrets so you can apply it to grow your business.  Learn how to successfully advertise regardless of the media used.

I don’t know about you but I like to hear the words ‘affordable’ and ‘cost effective’.  I like even more to hear the word “free”.  Plan to come to one of the two FREE workshops – choose what’s best for you and your business:  March 13th over the lunch hour or March 15th over breakfast at the ARC.  Even the food is FREE.  Click here  to get details on registration.

The workshop and food may be complimentary, but you do need to invest your valuable time.  Nothing is ever really free, but consider the ROI for your 90 minutes – just imagine want you could accomplish over the next year.


Bismarck Capitol Bus Tour

I am a morning person, but getting to the back of the WSC parking lot by 5:15am on a -22 degree day was not my ideal way to begin a day.  But that’s what I did last Wednesday.  A few dozen of us did the same and boarded a bus headed to Bismarck.

I was a little nervous when we stopped for a bathroom break and coffee. After all, we didn’t have the buddy system where everyone was responsible for their partner – I think I did a head count like 10 times.  But we managed to not leave anyone behind and saw the sun rise as we continued on to Bismarck.  We arrived at the Capitol building mid-morning as some committee hearings were going on.  Some of us got to tour the building and if you have never been I highly recommend the tour. photo-1

Cindy, our tour guide, knew so much information about ND, the building, and the way our government is run unique to our state!  Stories about the fire that destroyed the first building in just 4 hours, or how the very rare wood that was accidentally shipped to the capitol was incorporated into the art deco design.   Local building materials that were used and how everything had a purpose in its design.  The 19-story building that at one time needed a trolley from town is one of only a handful in the country with the skyscraper design and tallest building in North Dakota.  Each floor has different departments or agencies and the senate and house floors are designed and illuminated to look like the sun and moon.  It’s a beautiful building rich in history and a government steeped in tradition.   We even got to view Bismarck from the observation deck and sit in where the ND Supreme Court meets.  Not to mention the heritage center next door – but that is for another blog.

Over lunch at the Capitol Café, our District 1 representatives carved out time for us and presented a quick update on bills coming through and what they are working on.  Senator Bekkedahl, and Representatives Sukut and Hatlestad do an amazing job – and I would be remiss without thanking them for all that they do for our district.  Our new Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford joined us for lunch and gave us an update on his and Governor Burgum’s focus and priorities. photo-2 We also got to hear from Greater North Dakota Chamber President Andy Peterson on their focus at the state level supporting businesses across the state.

Next, we got to sit in on the house and senate sessions.  A select few even sat on the floor with our representatives as they voted. photo-3 There are many moving parts to the Legislative Assembly and seeing it first hand is a great way to feel comfortable in getting involved.  While I can’t thank our representatives enough, we also hope to fostering new ones who will eventually take their place.   And while often times, we attempt to bring our representatives to us – like we did with Congressman Cramer on Friday – it’s altogether different to see them in action!

After the session, we boarded the bus again to head back.  I was still just as nervous that someone would be left behind at the truck stop, but we all made it back to Williston at the same dark it was when we left.  It was a long day but the 2017 Williston Legislative Day was worth it!  Both the Chamber’s leadership and education committee and the government affairs committee support this trip every two years when the legislature is in session.  Trekking to Bismarck is never easy, but it is important in keeping Northwest North Dakota top of mind at the state level.  Maybe you can join us in 2019!


Fostering the Entrepreneur

Three years ago, the Chamber’s Leadership and Education committee and the Leadership Williston class along with a bunch of individuals and numerous business sponsors brought a national youth entrepreneurship program to the Williston Area.  We were the first city in North Dakota to have Lemonade Day – a free community-wide program that teaches our youth how to start, own and operate their own business through the time-tested activity: a lemonade stand!

I remember trying to sell lemonade on my cul-de-sac as a kid.  I didn’t get much traffic – perhaps just my 7 neighbors who humored me with a few quarters.  I didn’t quite know what I was doing.  What’s great about the Lemonade Day program is that it teaches kids…not only important life skills such as setting goals and carrying their plans out to completion.  But it also teaches very useful business skills like creating a budget, writing a business plan (considering advertising, location, supplies, etc.), and giving back to the community.   The Lemonade Day philosophy of ‘Spend, Save and Share’ is instilled in those participating.  The program offers opportunities for families and businesses – the whole community in fact – to foster the kind of foundation our youth need to become successful citizens.

Thanks to free materials and support from local sponsors and various volunteers this has been a successful day and growing two years in a row.  In 2015 we had 125 kids registered and about 40 lemonade stands around the Williston area.  In 2016 we registered 158 kids and had about 70 lemonade stands around the Williston area.  This year, the Chamber is partnering with the Williston Young Professionals to help execute our 3rd Annual Willison Lemonade Day!  You may have already gotten a letter asking for your support as a sponsor or business location – please consider being involved in this great educational event.  This year also marks the spreading of the program to other North Dakota cities.

I look forward to participating in Lemonade Day this year with my son – and I hope that you will also have a role in making the 3rd Annual Williston Lemonade Day successful – if for nothing less than buying and tasting several glasses of lemonade around town on June 17th and make a kid smile!


If you have any questions or would like to volunteer or sponsor please call the Chamber (701-577-6000), Chelsea (714-235-6467) or Jaden (719-659-4750).

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